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State of Ohio Establishes "Pre-Crime" Registry 761

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the just-in-case-you-want-to-ruin-someone dept.
I*Love*Green*Olives writes to tell us the Toledo Blade is reporting that State officials have rubber-stamped a "civil-registry" that would allow accused sex offenders to be tracked with the sex offender registry even if they have never been convicted of a crime. From the article: "A recently enacted law allows county prosecutors, the state attorney general, or, as a last resort, alleged victims to ask judges to civilly declare someone to be a sex offender even when there has been no criminal verdict or successful lawsuit. The rules spell out how the untried process would work. It would largely treat a person placed on the civil registry the same way a convicted sex offender is treated under Ohio's so-called Megan's Law."
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State of Ohio Establishes "Pre-Crime" Registry

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  • Worst idea ever. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vistic (556838) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @09:48PM (#16034971)
    This is so unconstitutional... isn't it? It had better be.

    Now you can just accuse someone and ruin their life?

    What the heck is the court even for, then?
  • by creimer (824291) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @09:48PM (#16034973) Homepage
    Hell has no fury than a scorned woman and a crazy law.
  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @09:51PM (#16034986) Journal
    The concept was offered by Roman Catholic bishops as an alternative to opening a one-time window for the filing of civil lawsuits alleging child sexual abuse that occurred as long as 35 years ago.
    Basically, instead of allowing all the people molested by Catholic priests to be prosecuted and sent to jail.

    Here's the kicker: "A civilly declared offender, however, could petition the court to have the person's name removed from the new list after six years if there have been no new problems and the judge believes the person is unlikely to abuse again."

    In other words, molesters do not have to go to jail and as long as they behave themselves (or just don't get caught) for 6 years.

    This doesn't strike me as much of a Mea Culpa by the Catholic Church.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 03, 2006 @09:51PM (#16034987)
    The provisions requiring unconvicted persons to register as sex offenders would obviously violate the 5th admendment.

    Further they would be denied their 14th admendment rights of equal protection under the law.

    Hopefully this is struck down fast.
  • by Bananatree3 (872975) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @09:52PM (#16034989)
    I can see women who hate their husbands going through nasty divorces and blaming their husbands with having raped them. Even if the other grounds for divorce are legitamite, they could be placed on this "potential sex offender" list and be denied jobs left and right. Divorce lawyers rejoice.
  • Slander? Libel? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Freaky Spook (811861) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @09:54PM (#16034997)
    How would this work, to accuse someone of being a sex offender, you need proof and be able to back your evidence up in court. If you accuse someone and have it published wouldn't the state or the person reporting it be able to be sued for Libel? This has a recipe for disaster and would probably be abused, as much as sex crimes are horrible this is just going to allow innocent people to have their lives ruined.
  • by garcia (6573) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @09:55PM (#16035002) Homepage
    This is so unconstitutional... isn't it? It had better be.

    So is wiretapping w/o a warrant. But remember, as long as we are fighting terrorists, squashing sex offenders, or expanding the powers of government we're doing something great for this country.

    Keep up the great work Ohio. I'm very disappointed that I moved to a different state.
  • That's not hot. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anthony Boyd (242971) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @10:01PM (#16035024) Homepage
    As a parent, I cannot begin to say how important the Megan's Law website has been for me. I was shocked to see about 20 convicted child molesters live in my area. I had no idea how prevalent it was.

    Having said that, this new proposal is awful. What the hell happened to "innocent until proven guilty?" Isn't this just an end-run around the law? Of course, as it's being made into law, I guess it's a law to do an end-run around other laws. How awful.

    I hope it doesn't stand. I hope the first person who experiences this sues to overturn it. I hope a huge financial penalty is imposed, and paid by the State, which in turn would hurt the taxpayers of that State. It's the only way to make them wake up and hold those responsible accountable.
  • Um... huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Sunday September 03, 2006 @10:05PM (#16035037) Homepage

    OK. I'm all for removing sex offenders rights (I'd support mandatory life sentences for child molesters with good proof of guilt), but this is nuts. Let's ignore the constitutional issues here, what about the people who are falsely accused? From what I hear it is hardly uncommon for women to accuse their husbands of things during divorces to try to get custody. Let's add on top of that people who accuse family members they don't get along with, the obvious blackmail possibilities (give me a raise or you go on the list), and this is just idiotic.

    I'm amazed anyone would even have the gaul to propose this kind of thing, let alone try to actually pass it.

  • by misanthrope101 (253915) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @10:07PM (#16035045)
    Another issue to get the liberals and conservatives working together to further erode civil rights. Liberals (feminists) have long hated that you have to actually be convicted of a crime (as in, evidence, facts, deliberation) before being considered guilty of rape. They refuse to admit that any woman would lie, ever, about this subject, so of course you're guilty, and the trial only "victimizes her all over again." Hence "victim's rights," etc.

    And since the subject is sex, which conservatives consider icky and horrible unless it's to your spouse (someone of a government-approved gender), you're guilty to them, too. Conservatives aren't going to come to the defense of an "accused sex offender," and liberals don't want to "victimize the victim again" by giving you a trial, so you're just guilty. So if you're accused by anyone, you might as well go out and rape an orphan, because you're going to jail for it anyway.

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @10:12PM (#16035064) Homepage

    The potential for abuse of this law is so insanely bizarre it amazes anyone growing up in America would even suggest it.

    Sadly, things have changed a lot in the America I grew up in. It's really not the same place.

  • The war of words (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ignorant Aardvark (632408) <.cydeweys. .at. .gmail.com.> on Sunday September 03, 2006 @10:12PM (#16035066) Homepage Journal
    As always it's a war of words in shaping the public's perception. And calling it a "Pre-Crime Registry" is the absolute best choice of words we could go for. This term from Phillip K. Dick just sounds incredibly Orwellian. Bravo on whoever came up with this name.
  • Re:Suggestion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ResidntGeek (772730) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @10:13PM (#16035071) Journal
    That would be ideal, but remember that the law generally doesn't apply to the rich and powerful. Judges would have a far smaller problem with putting a random schmuck in the registry on no evidence than they would a prominent politician.
  • by Dr. Eggman (932300) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @10:14PM (#16035076)
    Politicians that get to use their approval of this as being "tough on sex offenders." It's the same political garbage as the violent video game laws. Make up some unconstitutional laws, pass them, great publicity; make you look like you really care about solving the problem but since its unconstitutional, it'll be removed and no one's going to bring up a law that's no longer on the books against you at reelection time. Politicans win; we the taxpayers lose.
  • Re:Oh well! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Osty (16825) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @10:16PM (#16035087)

    So much for being innocent before proven guilty!

    You know, it's odd how one word can change a phrase. The traditional phrase is, "innocent until proven guilty," which implies that you may never be proven guilty. Your turn of phrase, "innocent before proven guilty," implies that you're going to be proven guilty, but you're currently innocent.

    You'd make an excellent politician!

  • by Sage Gaspar (688563) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @10:21PM (#16035105)
    In this case, it seems that the civil registry is designed to be very different from a criminal registry, so let us not assume it would deprive civil registrants of the same rights and liberties as criminal registrants.

    The issue isn't a right or liberty so much as an extreme black mark on their record. It says their picture, name, and address would be added to a publicly searchable database. Good luck getting a decent job for the next six years. And, oh, the fun when one of your neighbors decides to take a peek and it gets around to everyone in the area. All based on the decision of one judge.

    I mean, what's anyone supposed to do with "by the way, this guy 'might' be a sexual offender" coming from the government? Either you are or you aren't, and if the court can't build a case as per our constitutional legal system, even to civil standards (it says in the article it doesn't require a successful civil or criminal verdict), it can't publish an official "maybe."

    I'm sure someone involved in this process had the best of intentions seeing cases fall apart on technicalities or something, but just... no. This can't be the way to fix it.
  • by sumdumass (711423) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @10:31PM (#16035136) Journal
    The article says the person would have thier picture placed on the internet, labeled as a sex offender and suffer restrictions on were they could live or be at. This sounds like something violating due process. Restricting were someone could reside or even be in attendance is paramount to incarceration. You would need a conviction for that.

    In a way, I'm glad we are doing something about this. Sadly, I'm dissapointed that the efforts seemingly infringe on the very basic freedoms of life liberty and the pursuite of happyness that they are trying to protect for people. This is so much different from the NSA wiretaps or some of the other infringments on freedom we have seen of late. Some people act like there is no different but couldn't be more wrong. In this law, we are singling an indevidual or ondeviduals out, creating a label for them and placing restrictions on thier movment and ability to earn a living. Further more, we are intenting to place this labeling information along with personal identifyable attributes on the internet so to publicly humiliate a person "_never convicted of a crime_". It doesn't bother me that we do it to people who are convicted, the public needs protection from convicted offenders. But just an acusation is going too far.

    I hope ot see this in the courts real soon. I only hope the person getting poped on this and challenging it is actualy inocent. I would have to send money to a legal defense fund for some one who is guilty just to gat some sanity back into the laws. But i can envision a defense fund being made and lots of people funding a fight on this.
  • Re:That's not hot. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekboy642 (799087) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @10:35PM (#16035153) Journal
    Responding to your first statement.
    Something you probably don't know is what action they were convicted for.
    In some cases, yes, the person committed a heinous crime and was duly punished. In many others, the person got drunk and pissed behind a bush at a party, or decided he and his girlfriend should go get frisky in the backyard.
    To go out on a limb, I'm willing to bet a VAST MAJORITY of the people on the sex offender list are harmless. And that's the very problem. A list such as that should be reserved for those people that, knowing exactly what they did, you don't want to even be on the same planet with them.

    Otherwise...well, this new law is just another advance in our state-sponsored witch-hunts. Remember, it's all to protect you against the Turrists.
  • by La Fourmi Nihiliste (906448) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @10:39PM (#16035167)
    paranoa is strong, all across the land of the free... this isnt new: it always has been. amreicans have already given up parts of their civil rights for an impression of safety from a spooky theoretical external threat (formerly known as Communism now conveniently know as terrorism).

    The next logical step is to ask some rights to be given up for internal threats.
    the more rights are given up in the name of 'freedom' then the less the americans are actualy free. I just dont get this part. And then i wonder: do americans see this process going on? And if they are, why are they letting the system eat them up? Or are american totaly blind to such a process? in this case what makes them blind to it? then again some americans i met on some trips there would've told me that i think too much.

  • by skam240 (789197) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @10:42PM (#16035185)
    wouldn't this be defamation? i would think putting some one who has not been convicted of a sex offence in a data base for sex offenders would fall under the catagory of dafamation.

    i also love this bit from the article...

    A civilly declared offender, however, could petition the court to have the person's name removed from the new list after six years if there have been no new problems and the judge believes the person is unlikely to abuse again

    unlikely to abuse again!? but if they've abused before then why havent they been convicted?

    The article does state that this is an alternative to opening up a one time windoew to bring civil suits againts catholic priests for alleged sexual abuse but this seems like it has massive potential for abuse. even if this is only used for profiling priests it still doesnt address the issue that some of these priest may not have done anything wrong.
  • Re:Hmmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by illuminatedwax (537131) <stdrange@[ ]mni. ... u ['alu' in gap]> on Sunday September 03, 2006 @10:56PM (#16035237) Journal
    Was he convicted? Everyone here wants to protect the right to privacy, but I think everyone here also agrees that once you've been proven in court to have broken the rules to a great enough extent, you no longer get to play by the rules that benefit you. Felons can't vote, and sex offenders have to identify themselves.

    The problem most people have is with innocent civilians being treated like criminals. I don't think people have a problem with criminals being treated like criminals.
  • by AriaStar (964558) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @10:57PM (#16035238) Journal
    The Constitution no longer applies. So many of our laws are already unConstitutional. For one, fathers are guaranteed the right to their children, yet are routinely railroaded out of their children's lives. Have the courts overturned state laws that allow for parents to be denied their children? If you think the courts will overturn an unContitutional law, you are either delusional, idealistic, or uninformed. Look at gay marriage. no where does the Constitution allow for discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. So how are we denying gays rights essentially guaranteed to them? All it takes is an amendment to overturn a right. And it happens.
  • Actually... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 03, 2006 @11:20PM (#16035315)
    I wonder how hard it would be to get all the people who proposed this law put on that list?

    Perhaps then they would reconsider ...
  • by timeOday (582209) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @11:22PM (#16035322)
    Ohio may claim this isn't a punishment or a conviction, but the first unconvicted person who is denied a job or gets "CHILD MOLESTER" painted on his house during the night will sue, and probably win.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @11:24PM (#16035328) Homepage
    ...gets accused of some sort of sexual misconduct because the wife wants to keep the kids. (You pick the reasons) But it's so frequent and common, that it's virtually expected that the wife will claim some sort of sex issue and children in a divorce case. A majority of the accusations disappear due to lack of evidence or evidence to the contrary. But this is... really bad news for men everywhere.

    These days, about the same time they take little girls asside in elementary school to explain about periods and stuff, I'm thinking they should take the little boys and explain to them how dangerous the game is getting for them...
  • by voice_of_all_reason (926702) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @11:26PM (#16035336)
    The only solution is to get rid of political parties or get a third party

    Human nature has already has a solution. After a society's founding and golden age, some people attempt to amass power and control the rest through force. Eventually this control pisses off a large enough number of the populace that civil war results. It has eventually happened to every single emergence of civilization since time began -- assuming they were not conquered midway through the process.
  • Re:That's not hot. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by xigxag (167441) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @11:37PM (#16035382)
    But if you have a young daughter, and she gets molested by a drunken driver, or a jaywalker, or a litterer, or an illegal left turner, she's just as bad off as if she's molested by someone on the sex offender list. So to play it really safe, maybe we should have a "list of everyone convicted of any offense ever."

    And actually, if you are a dude, then statistically speaking she's more likely to be molested by YOU than by some random sex offender. So maybe we should separate daughters from their fathers at birth.

    As a nation, let's think of some more ways we can make our children super-duper-ultra secure.
  • by cdrudge (68377) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @11:58PM (#16035466) Homepage
    I can see where this law could be useful in cases where we know someone has committed a heinous act but the state can't punish him.
    Such as? If we KNOW someone has committed a heinous act, we should be able to prosecute them. If we tried and someone screwed up and double jepordy set it, well, the law says we can't keep trying to convict them. The law doesn't say if we can't get them the right way we get another chance to convict them. Anyone who says this isn't a incredibly stupid idea is delusional. I pray I never have you as a lawyer.
  • by lewp (95638) on Sunday September 03, 2006 @11:58PM (#16035467) Journal
    It's pretty sad when the first person you associate with three poor excuses for invading citizens' privacy is our president.
  • by mrraven (129238) on Monday September 04, 2006 @12:05AM (#16035493)
    If you believe NSA spying, bill of rights violating, presidential singing statement congress undermining Bush is a "strict constructionist," you are an utterly naive fool. It's not just "liberals" who are fed up with Bush but ex-Reagan cabinet people like Dr. Paul Craig Roberts.

    See: http://www.vdare.com/roberts/060501_constitution.h tm [vdare.com]
  • by ubernostrum (219442) on Monday September 04, 2006 @12:16AM (#16035563) Homepage

    First of all, it's a civil registry. I don't see an automatic due process issue because the state isn't meting out any punishment to those who are listed (i.e. there's no state-led deprivation of life, liberty, or property).

    Being placed on the Ohio registry, according to the article, includes restrictions on where you can live. So this would seem to be a denial of liberty without the due process (conviction in a criminal trial for a sex offense) required for such.

  • by Ruff_ilb (769396) on Monday September 04, 2006 @12:22AM (#16035581) Homepage
    I'd like to further add that there is a punishment INHERENT in the entire system, which is why it MUST be reserved for those convicted only. If the system, in effect, does NOTHING, then it's a useless law and should never have been passed. If it does SOMETHING, then it does it at the expense of the life, liberty, or property of those on the registry. That's basically it... so there's really no argument that can be based on the "Well, it's OK because it doesn't really do anything to the people..." approach.
  • by M0b1u5 (569472) on Monday September 04, 2006 @12:25AM (#16035586) Homepage
    Actually, with bondage videos in Britain, you'd probably have no trouble joining the "Bondage on Wednesday" group in your neighbourhood.

    No - the USA is the only place that makes it almost impossible to NOT be a criminal. This is, after all, the purpose of the US Government: to enact so many stupid laws that EVERYONE is a criminal. Then the authorities can always arrest you for SOMETHING, and hence they have immense power over the *cough* voters *cough*.

    Don't you see - without the power to arrest anyone at will, the government can't control you. Plus, you wouldn't actually be AFRAID - which is the reason you have a government OF the lawyers, BY the lawyers, and FOR the lawyers. FEAR.

    It's the catch-phrase of the USA: FEAR.

    Fear of terror
    Fear of being poor
    Fear of being arrested
    Fear of losing your job
    Fear of losing your car
    Fear of being attacked
    Fear of being left behind
    Fear of being left out
    Fear for your life
    Fear for your teenager
    Fear for any fucking thing you can think of.

    God forbid a citizen should try to do something about it, because they're undoubtedly a file sharer, or a speeder, or a tax-cheat...
  • the ACLU (Score:3, Insightful)

    by adrianmonk (890071) on Monday September 04, 2006 @12:29AM (#16035603)

    Someone else already mentioned that the ACLU is going to jump on this like white on rice, and they're probably right. In fact, just about every time some totally apeshit crap like this happens, the ACLU is right there, providing free legal help to someone, and 99% of the time, at least in my opinion, the ACLU is helping out the right side. Along the same lines, somewhat recently a friend of a friend was arrested for walking too near a local dam (terrorism, you know), which is patently absurd. I suggested to my friend that she should tell her friend (the one who is arrested) to call the ACLU. I didn't even have to think about it; I'm sure they would gladly represent her for free.

    All of this got me thinking: when is the last time I gave money to support the ACLU? Never. Granted, last several years haven't been too great for me financially, but this year, I could afford to give something. And I ought to, because as far as I can tell, the ACLU is serving a vital purpose, for free, and I've never helped them out with that. Which is silly.

    So, the point of posting this? It's just in case someone else feels the same way. Maybe I can give them a few bucks and motivate 1 or 2 other people to do the same. It seems like a worthwhile thing to do.

  • by neuraljazz (307431) on Monday September 04, 2006 @12:43AM (#16035658) Homepage
    Maybe someone in Ohio needs to challenge these laws to the supreme court... or Ohio-ans just so stupid they don't realize that they have the right to appeal, because if they pass these laws, they sure SOUND stupid.
  • by E++99 (880734) on Monday September 04, 2006 @12:52AM (#16035681) Homepage
    Fortunately, today we have four slam-dunk votes against this law on the Supreme Court (Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito). Why? Because the Constitution contains the words "No person shall be...deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law" and the mandade incorporated in our law from English commonlaw for the presumption of innocence. And this is exactly what those two concepts speak to (and have always spoken to). And then there are five votes from Dianne Feinstein's kind of judges -- those who take the approach that the meaning of the words of the Constitution only take form based upon whom the judge happens to feel greater compassion for at the moment. In this case it could be close, being between a person being punished without conviction and the potentiality of some child getting molested. Fortunately, only one of their votes is required.

    This is why it's so important to have a strict constructionist Court. The government is not a legitimate government if its laws are not its laws.
  • by osssmkatz (734824) on Monday September 04, 2006 @12:52AM (#16035684) Journal
    Yes it is hairbrained. If evidence isn't admissable in court, it isn't admissible for a reason, specifically because it has been deemed -- over years of experience -- to be unreliable. --Sam
  • Re:Hmmm... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by laughingcoyote (762272) <barghesthowl&excite,com> on Monday September 04, 2006 @01:08AM (#16035718) Journal

    ...had a violent criminal record involving children.

    That's exactly the issue at hand here, however. The guy who did that had already been convicted of a crime. Convicts, by definition, lose some of their rights, including the right to carry firearms and a lot of their right to privacy (even to some degree once they're out, ask any ex-con how well trying to keep something "private" from a parole officer works!)

    What we're talking about here, is branding people with this permanent mark who have -not- been proven guilty of criminal conduct behind a reasonable doubt, and have that put in a database for the world (and any potential employer, neighbor, landlord, partner...) to find with a simple Web search. This is absolutely unacceptable. If there is sufficient evidence that someone has molested a kid, they need to be charged and tried. If there is not, then they don't need to have the scarlet letter put to them.

  • by Scudsucker (17617) on Monday September 04, 2006 @01:09AM (#16035723) Homepage Journal
    Who says it has to be a woman?

    Because the US is not only not on the same page when it comes to male/female victums/perpetrator's of abuse, it's not even on the same planet. Why do we have a Violence Against Woman Act and women's self-defense courses up the wazoo, when men are far and away the #1 victums of violence? Why is it when a female school teacher has sex with a male student, it's "having an affair" rather than "statory rape"? Why is it when a man "murders" his wife we rush to put him in prison, but if a woman "kills" her husband we rush to find out why she did it? Why wasn't it a major scandal when Ann Richards, former govenor of Texas, said "in Texas the price of gas has gone up so high that women who want to run over their husbands are car-pooling," a reference to Clara Harris, who murdered her husband by running him over with a car...with his daughter in the front seat. Imagine a politician making a similar joke about Laci Peterson. And don't forget to throw in the old feminist urgan legends like 1 in 4 women will be raped, men committ 95% of domestic violence, women never lie about rape, etc.

    No judge wants to have his name in the papers because he blew off a woman's request for protection...just look at the judge who denied a renewed restraining order for a women who was later set on fire by her ex. Wheras denying an abused man protection carries virtually no political cost or stigma, if he's even taken seriously in the first place.

    Can a man lie about abuse as much as a woman? Sure. But a woman is infinitely more likely to be belived, and will have access to free legal resources to boot.
  • Re:Hmmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aussie_a (778472) on Monday September 04, 2006 @01:13AM (#16035739) Journal
    Unless the prison term is for life (and I'm talking real life here, not 25 years), there should be NO loss of priviledge whatsoever once the time has been served.
  • For good reason (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gilroy (155262) on Monday September 04, 2006 @01:34AM (#16035815) Homepage Journal
    Blockquoth the poster:

    A criminal conviction is a very high bar.

    Yes, and that's a good thing. It's important. All the things you mention -- rules of admissibility, statutes of limitations, right to face an accuser, and so on -- were implemented for a reason. These "technicalities" protect the citizen from the untrammeled power of the State. They are the bedrock of the rule of law. I realize that the rule of law has taken on a quaint aura lately but please, can we agree that we shouldn't jettison it wholesale?
  • Re:Hmmm... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Alsee (515537) on Monday September 04, 2006 @01:37AM (#16035822) Homepage
    There may not be public registries, but the records are public information.

    Good, so then you agree that this sex registry stuff is BS?

    The most serious crime is murder. We should not be making up random bizarre laws and penalties and pseudo-penalties for other crimes, laws that do not apply to the most serious crime murder. We should not be passing bizarre irrational laws turning our legal system upside down for the sole reason that politicians can catch more god-damn headlines for crusading against some crime other than murder.

    I once read an excellent and very appropriate quote:
    The definition of a stable society is when some psycho guns down a schoolyard, and the law does not change.

    Sadly, we obviously do not have a stable society.

    The guy who raped and killed this seven-year-old had already spent six years in prison for sexually assaulting another child before getting his hands on Megan. He moved in across the street from her family and no laws were in place to give them any right to know. So their little girl was raped and killed, and no one thought to let anyone know to that a known-predator was among them.

    And if Megan had not been a white blond-haired blue-eyed girl, do you seriously think there would have been a crusade and political grandstanding that Some Random New Law Must Be Passed? That Something Must Be Done no matter how bizarre and worthless it really is?

    People commit crimes. It sucks. But you can't prevent crimes from being committed by passing Yet Another Law. You can make all the registries you like, someone who wants to shoot up a schoolyard... or kidnap and murder a white blond-haired blue-eyed girl... can and will still drive two miles down the road and commit a crime.

    And the current story is a perfect example of just how insane this path is. No law is ever enough to prevent this sort of crime from being committed, and no matter how many laws have already been passed and no matter how bizarre they get, it still gets headlines and still produces Yet Anotehr Crusade that Something Must Be Done yet again, and the laws just get more and more bizarre without end. And now we have the registry list being extended to people who have not been - and presumably CANNOT be convicted of any crime. For people who are obviously quite likely innocent to be put on these lists, and have thier lives ruined by the government have have their liberty infringed and be subject to all sorts of on-going reporting requirements and other bizarre conditions under penalty of prison, and the government is going to do this to people based on mere allegation.

    I knew a girl - manic depressive - who in fact admitted to me filing false police reports of abuse against at least one person. It is absolutely INSANE that anyone would think it was a good or even reasonable idea to have the government do this to innocent people on the unsubstantiated (and false) allegation of some malicious or disturbed individual.

    -
  • by gilroy (155262) on Monday September 04, 2006 @01:48AM (#16035881) Homepage Journal
    Blockquoth the poster:

    I'm sure someone involved in this process had the best of intentions seeing cases fall apart on technicalities or something, but


    As much damage is done by self-righteous do-gooders as by all the evil men in the world. It's the same sin, an unshakable conviction that :I am Right" and so no limits can apply.
  • I'm with you! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BLKMGK (34057) <morejunk4me@@@hotmail...com> on Monday September 04, 2006 @02:11AM (#16036017) Homepage Journal
    If we cannot prove the person guilty for whatever reason then tough - they go free! Or yeah in this new world we nail them in civil court There's no such thing as "I just *know* he's guilty but I can't prove it". Sorry, that's not cool, not kosher, and should never be allowed.

    Yes, this means that some folks who are guilty will walk. We knew that when this system was created. It takes victims coming forward, it takes work on the part of investigators, and it takes community involvement in the trial. Sorry, I don't agree that it's okay to somehow shortcut it. Today it's folks we suspect might be child molestors, next week we go after Communists? Does no one remember Mccarthy? Kripes, just look at the numbers of people on Death Row who have been cleared with DNA evidence. Even in our current system we don't always get it right and now some dumbass wants to create lists for people we suspect but can't prove? Wow, just wow....

    I know I know - we're doing it for the children right?
  • Re:Hmmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by candude43 (998769) on Monday September 04, 2006 @02:27AM (#16036099)
    If you want to keep him away from children, keep him in prison. Have tougher sentences imposed from the get-go. But once he is released, if he is prevented from finding employment and housing, how do you expect him to integrate back into society?
  • Re:Hmmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jcenters (570494) on Monday September 04, 2006 @02:29AM (#16036106) Homepage
    If he's that big of a threat, what's he doing out of jail in the first place?

    One of the founding ideals of our justice system is that once you pay your debt to society, you're free to live your life. Get rid of the registries and make sentences for sex offenders longer.

    No room in the jails you say? Then perhaps we should stop tossing people into prisons for minor things. Then maybe we'd have room for, you know, the dangerous people.
  • by Skreems (598317) on Monday September 04, 2006 @02:30AM (#16036114) Homepage
    So cops can trample all over due process in obtaining evidence, and while it won't make it to trial it can still be used to put a person on this list for 6 years? Yeah, I see no problems with that...

    We have a court system and laws about what can be used for a very good reason. Shit like this list is just moving us closer to a gestapo state. Yeah, it sucks that guilty people get off sometimes. It doesn't mean the system is broken, just that that's the price you pay for protecting the rights of all citizens, and for minimizing the number of innocents convicted.
  • by Skreems (598317) on Monday September 04, 2006 @02:38AM (#16036154) Homepage
    Ok. COps deny a lawyer, because they are attempting to sweat a confession. Hours later, after filling him with coffe and water, they deny him use of the bathroom. They get their confession after hours of interrogation. But he requested a lawyer. No confession. He goes free. State cannot prosecute. State does NOT prosecute. This guy wins the criminal lottery and goes free?
    Yes, he does. Because the cops fucked up. They should have stopped questioning him the second he asked for a lawyer. There's nothing wrong with the law in this case... it stopped the behavior it was designed to stop, e.g. cops questioning you without access to legal council, and using interrogation techniques bordering on torture.
  • by aaronl (43811) on Monday September 04, 2006 @02:54AM (#16036216) Homepage
    Blah blah blah, think of the children. It does not matter one bit if the crime is commited against my child, your child, me, or you. The argument is a bit old, and I'm just as sick of it being spewed from the mouths of the ignorant elsewhere.

    If the police can't get a conviction, then there is doubt that the person committed the crime. This is intentional, as it is better to miss a guilty man than imprison an innocent one.

    Many jurisdictions *will* convice a person who knowingly causes the death of another. Infecting people with HIV/AIDS on purpose (ie: knowingly) can be considered under quite a few statutes. No, the public SHOULD NOT be warned about the guy with HIV if the only reason is that he has it. If the guy goes an infects someone on purpose, then that may be a criminal act. Otherwise, you have no right to know he has the disease.

    As for the interrogation tactic, no, torture is quite illegal. Denying a person access to a lawyer is illegal. It doesn't even matter what current Federal laws says. The PATRIOT Act is illegal, too, for the same reasons. Just because the currently elected politicians can't read, and don't want to follow the law, doesn't make the law disappear. So that's correct, the alleged criminal now goes free, because the police didn't follow the rules meant to protect us all from government abuse.
  • by jcr (53032) <jcr@NoSPaM.mac.com> on Monday September 04, 2006 @03:18AM (#16036327) Journal
    So this would seem to be a denial of liberty without the due process (conviction in a criminal trial for a sex offense) required for such.

    which is why this proposal shouldn't stand its first test in court. Of course, neither should civil forfeiture, but that continues unabated..

    -jcr

  • by rifter (147452) on Monday September 04, 2006 @04:00AM (#16036478) Homepage

    the authorities can always arrest you for SOMETHING, and hence they have immense power over the *cough* voters *cough*.

    If you are a felon you cannot vote. More and more crimes are being made felonies, including the crime of having too many misdemeanors. Misdemeanors can often be prosecuted without trial or at least without legal representation being made available. And of course in some states it is reported that even having unpaid speeding tickets can prevent you from voting because the police are waiting at the voting booth to take people to jail. If you want power in a Democracy you can either convince the majority of your view or prevent the majority of your opposition from voting. Guess which one our rulers have decided is easier to do.

  • by dvNull (235982) on Monday September 04, 2006 @04:08AM (#16036503) Homepage
    Your mistake is in assuming that these men are deadbeat dads who get a girl pregnant and then run away into the sunset. This kind of scenario also happens to men who have been through a bad divorce where the woman can be vicious enough to deprive the children of their father just to satisfy her ego. Even if the child was born out of wedlock, why should it matter? Child support is child support and we already have enough penalties against men who skip out on it.

    The sole fact that these men can be put into a sex offender like registry similar to one mandated by Megan's Law, in essence having men who are just accused being treated like a pedophile murderer is wrong. Just try and imagine that you have been accused of a sex crime and having to register as a sex offender anywhere you go. This would also prevent you from getting a job, moving into a new neighbourhood all because someone _ACCUSED_ you.

    Regardless of whether the accuser has been convicted of perjury, from what the article says it appears that the persons name will still be on the registry for 6 years after which the person can petition to have it removed. The state could still say no however and your reputation will be completely destroyed.

    This type of law will just bring about more people blackmailing others, puts too much power into the hands of a scorned lover or ex wife or just someone with a grudge.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 04, 2006 @04:14AM (#16036530)
    I suggest you examine the Regulation of Investigative Powers Act (RIPA, I think it's 1998). See what the going assumption is if you've been served with a disclosure warrant and you can't find an encryption key. Unless you have well documented crypto key management and disposal methods that give you a decent audit trail you will be charged with contempt of court.

    So, principally, you have to prove your innocence..

    There are a number of other dodgy provisions in there that makes you wonder precisely how many decades ago the UK stopped being a democracy (I guess mainly since Kaiser Tony got his hands on the controls), but the above one is probably the most blatant violation of the principle in question.

    Even the ID Cards project hasn't dared to implement some of its more insane provisions in law yet (but give it time, first a couple more "terrorist attack" scares like the whole liquid bomb spoof).
  • by tooba (710518) on Monday September 04, 2006 @04:31AM (#16036585)
    I think you're looking at the issue from the wrong angle. No one is arguing that it's good when a criminal gets off because of a "technicality." But the fact is, those technicalities exist to protect innocent people who are wrongly accused.

    The system we have already jails more citizens than any other legal system in the world. Chances are, if you have comitted a heinous crime, you will end up in jail. Hell, even with our laundry list of "technicalities," plenty of innocent people spend time in prison cells. We make up 5% of the world's population, but account for 25% of the world's incarcerated population. [bbc.co.uk] If the state wants to deprive a citizen of his rights, they must follow due process, which includes a being judged by a jury of his peers. Where is the constitutional wiggle room for this law?

    Its a sad state of affairs when we start considering due process to be a "get out of jail free card." When the people the constitution was meant to serve are willing to cede that protection, the document totally loses its potency.
  • by prlewis0 (923708) on Monday September 04, 2006 @05:29AM (#16036763)
    After a society's founding and golden age, some people attempt to amass power and control the rest through force. Eventually this control pisses off a large enough number of the populace that civil war results. It has eventually happened to every single emergence of civilization since time began -- assuming they were not conquered midway through the process.

    I don't think this is quite the foolproof theory you claim it to be. I live in Britain and there were several attempts by rival nobles (in the old days) to take over the throne. Later on we had a civil war, but nothing really came of it. Hundreds of years later, we have two/three serious political parties and a bunch of pressure group ones, but nothing really changes any more than it does in the US. We still have a system thrown together by reform after incremental reform. We have no real basis for how our system works other than either a belief that the Queen is there by the grace of God - which I think fewer people believe now than ever before - or through precedent, which is quoted more often these days. ;-)

    It's perfectly possible for the ruling/political class in a society to continually not quite do enough on a given day to entice the wider populace to rise up. IMO, this can be continued pretty much in perpetuity. Hey, maybe that explains our "mustn't grumble" attitude over here.

    Pete.

  • Re:Imo: (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Shaper_pmp (825142) on Monday September 04, 2006 @05:39AM (#16036797)
    A civilly declared offender, however, could petition the court to have the person's name removed from the new list after six years if there have been no new problems and the judge believes the person is unlikely to abuse again.


    Sorry, "again"? I thought we were talking about unproven allegations and an inability to get a conviction. I thought that if you weren't convicted you were deemed to be innocent, at least as far as the law's concerned.

    This whole effort smacks of "there's no smoke without fire", and that's a shitty premise to pass a law on. Especially given the number of false allegations of child abuse [wikipedia.org].

    Obviously no-one who abuses children deserves to escape unpunished, but I think that's kind of what we have "due process" for. Assuming the legal system (which has stood us in good stead for the last several hundred years) is still working, no extra loop-holes should be necessary.
  • by Shaper_pmp (825142) on Monday September 04, 2006 @06:31AM (#16036922)
    "I'm a second year law student, here's my take on this:"

    Christ, I think I see why we keep getting laws like this proposed. Not to to be offensive, but what are they teaching you in law school these days?

    "First of all, it's a civil registry. I don't see an automatic due process issue because the state isn't meting out any punishment to those who are listed (i.e. there's no state-led deprivation of life, liberty, or property)."

    Straight off the top of my head... there are already all sorts of laws controlling where someone on the sex offenders register can live. IANAL, but that looks rather like a deprivation of liberty, right there.

    And if it's not state-led, who's maintaining the register, doing the enforcing, and deciding who gets put on there?

    "If the accused can attend the hearing and present evidence in his defense before the judge... Tossing around any old accusation won't cut it; a judge will be weighing the evidence and making the decision. Presumably the accused can attend the hearing and present his own evidence... I would fully expect the decision can be appealed... (on many issues the presiding judge has unchallenged discretion; this wouldn't be one of them)."

    Get enough assumptions and qualifiers in there, sport?

    The fact is, you know pratically nothing about the details of the law, and everything you offer is your own personal opinion. And yet, on the strength of that, you're prepared to stand up and brand other people "knee-jerkers" for daring to suggest that the few details we've heard might just indicate it's a really, really stupid idea?

    Your obvious respect and belief in the lawmakers is an admirable thing... but I doubt you'll find many people who'll agree with you. Even if the convictions^H^H^H^H^H sorry, allegations are appealable, you're still arguing that people should be punished who can't be proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

    "I can see where this law could be useful in cases where we know someone has committed a heinous act but the state can't punish him."

    Kindly give an example of such a situation, where we simultaneously know (not "think" or "suspect")the person is guilty, some technicality of the law ensures they can't be convicted, and where disregarding said technicality doesn't do irreparably more harm to our entire society than letting one child molester free.

    "Maybe the key evidence linking him is inadmissible in court (but still reliable)."

    Right, except that evidence is generally ruled inadmissable in court because rules have been broken to get it. We have rules for admissable evidence to protect people - this is what prevents spying or searching without a warrant, and all the other freedoms we enjoy. The minute evidence obtained like this is made remotely useful we might as well not have the protections at all, as they won't count for shit.

    "Maybe the statue of limitations has expired or there are jurisdictional problems."

    Erm, maybe you aren't aware of why we have a statute of limitations [wikipedia.org].

    If you disagree with the fundamental idea then you'd be better off campaigning to have the SoL repealed than passing a stupid law to get around it.

    "Maybe the victim is unwilling to press charges or has fled."

    If the victim is unwilling to press charges then (from the state's point of view) there isn't really a crime to prosecute, is there? Likewise if the victim flees. I'm sorry, but in a (non-victimless) crime if the victim won't act to ensure prosecution of their supposed wrong-doer then why should the state?

    Gutting this exemption allows people to be prosecuted for anything the state likes, even if the "victim" doesn't want the prosecution.
  • by Duds (100634) <dudley&enterspace,org> on Monday September 04, 2006 @06:36AM (#16036935) Homepage Journal
    In all honesty I've never like the "felons can't vote" policy anyway.

    At it's simplest, the ruling party has a mechanism to decide who can and can't vote. That's not good. Everyone should have 1 vote. If there are enough felons voting for the repeal of all laws (for example) that it passes than that's democracy.

    Maybe the threat of that might actually make people who aren't felons get off their arse and vote.

    Of course the obvious reply to me is "What about age restrictions too?" and you've got me there to be honest.
  • by ultranova (717540) on Monday September 04, 2006 @07:07AM (#16037007)

    Except that if your child is molested, you do not believe that the legal system is set up properly if he gets away with it by not being caught, and manages to stay under the radar until the statute of limitations runs out.

    I hereby accuse you of molesting my children. Of course I can't prove it, since I don't have any children, but you've been accused and can therefore be added to this list. See the problem ?

    But nice attempt at "think of the children" -style moral panic nonetheless.

    THe example of a man with HIV having unprotected sex with partners without informing them, there is an action that should be criminal, since you are more than just gambling with another person's life.

    It is. Attempted murder, with the HIV virus as your weapon. And the act of purposefully spreading deadly infectious disease propably counts as terrorism too.

    Ok. COps deny a lawyer, because they are attempting to sweat a confession. Hours later, after filling him with coffe and water, they deny him use of the bathroom. They get their confession after hours of interrogation. But he requested a lawyer. No confession. He goes free. State cannot prosecute. State does NOT prosecute. This guy wins the criminal lottery and goes free?

    Yeah. That sucks. Almost as much as some innocent guy who the cops intimidated until he was ready to confess anything to be let to the bathroom. You see, anyone can be made to confess anything given suitably hard interrogation. That's why forced confession - and I count intimidation as use of force here - is completely worthless.

    The police are supposed to uphold the law, not break it. To protect the innocent, not crush them at will. To catch the villains, not become them. What's the use of guards if they are worse than the ones they are supposed to guard against ?

  • by madcow_bg (969477) on Monday September 04, 2006 @07:44AM (#16037084)
    the authorities can always arrest you for SOMETHING, and hence they have immense power over the *cough* voters *cough*.

    If you are a felon you cannot vote. More and more crimes are being made felonies, including the crime of having too many misdemeanors. Misdemeanors can often be prosecuted without trial or at least without legal representation being made available. And of course in some states it is reported that even having unpaid speeding tickets can prevent you from voting because the police are waiting at the voting booth to take people to jail. If you want power in a Democracy you can either convince the majority of your view or prevent the majority of your opposition from voting. Guess which one our rulers have decided is easier to do.


    Man, I know that felons cannot vote, but I am very curious how can you actually do that? I mean, WTF? What democracy is thif you can be robbed of your right to vote?

    Let me quote this from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UN) http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html [un.org]:
    Article 21.

                (1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
                (2) ...
                (3) ...

    You should note that there is no disticntion regarding whether you're a criminal or not.

    In my country every election in every prison there are voting booths and usually the national TV shows a report on them. The reality is NOT whay you see in the Holywood movies, these people are serving their terms, they look crushed most of the time, they're guilty BUT they are still people! Why would you expell them from voting is beyond me.

    [SARCASM]It is not like they are a significant portion of the population... [/SARCASM]

    I just can't understand what is the US of A trying to do? What's all the fuss with those criminals? So far they are neglecting at least three parts of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - torture in Gitmo, disregarging the presumption of innocence and banning convicted felons from voting. May I remind you that is the same declaration they try to impose on the rest of the world.
  • by pudro (983817) on Monday September 04, 2006 @08:37AM (#16037225)
    "What? The land of the free?
    Whoever told you that is your enemy?"
    Know Your Enemy by Rage Against the Machine, 1992

    Fourteen years ago people realized this. But still people will vote according to abortion rights and Social Security issues before considering their freedom. The general public puts up no resistance, so they are not free (as my sig explains).
  • Re:Hmmm... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Scrameustache (459504) * on Monday September 04, 2006 @09:57AM (#16037502) Homepage Journal
    If he's that big of a threat, what's he doing out of jail in the first place?

    Making room in there for pot-heads.
  • by binary paladin (684759) <<binarypaladin> <at> <gmail.com>> on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:33AM (#16037655)
    Are you fucking kidding me? Four "slam-dunk" "strict constructionist" votes? Now don't get me wrong, I am ALL ABOUT strict construction. I am a black letter hardline "you will follow the Constitution to the letter or I will cut your fucking nuts off" kind of guy.

    Scalia is a "strict constructionist" up until he's ruling on the torture of "terrorists" or eminent domain for money grubbing corporate fuckwads. Thomas is probably our best judge but he's still an ass and still has plenty of his own pet issues where he's gonna rule his way no matter what the Constitutions or the Founders said.

    Be thankful Bush was elected? Mr. WeDon'tEvenDeclareWarLikeTheConstitutionSaysWe'reS upposedTo? The man uses the Constitution as fucking toilet paper and he's a god damn retard on top of that. Good lord.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 04, 2006 @12:37PM (#16038405)
    If he's that big of a threat, what's he doing out of jail in the first place?
    One of the founding ideals of our justice system is that once you pay your debt to society, you're free to live your life. Get rid of the registries and make sentences for sex offenders longer.


    Ah, but when a child molester has "paid his debt," you want him to stay in jail longer, anyway. How is his "debt to society" greater, simply because you perceive him to be a threat? Isn't that condemning him before a future crime has been committed? Where's due process, innocent until proven guilty, etc.?

    We're right back where we started. Pre-crime punishment.
  • Although I think that this law is an incredibly bad idea, I'm not sure that it's as obviously unconstitutional (using a very literal interpretation of various aspects of the Constitution) as some people are assuming.

    The prohibition of Bills of Attainder is specifically against things passed by the legislature against specific persons, at least as I understand it; it's a separation-of-powers issue, to keep the legislature from just saying that a particular person is guilty of a crime and punishing them. They're not allowed to do that; they create the laws, but the actual judgement is left up to the judicial branch.

    However, as best I understand the scheme in Ohio, it wouldn't be the legislature putting you on the registry per se, it would be a civil court. Thus, it's still in the hands of the judicial branch, and it passes the test.

    In terms of due process, the Constitution guarantees the right to hear the charges against you and to confront your accuser and call witnesses on your behalf (and a jury, etc., etc.), but you could meet all of these requirements in a civil court, if it was so desired. A whole lot of the protections that we've come to expect in this country, while they're derived (I'd argue) from the spirit of the Constitution, aren't protected literally. They're just regular laws, or procedural standards, or come from precedent that relies on a more-than-literal reading of the Constitution. In other words, you could create a pretty twisted system -- twisted from our point-of-view, anyway -- and still maintain a facade of Constitutionality, if you wanted to.

    At any rate, I haven't read the actual proposed legislation in Ohio, but I just thought it was important to point out that you could probably do something like this and make it Constitutional according to a very literalist interpretation, on paper. I don't think that we can necessarily count on the USSC striking down something like this, if it became law.
  • Re:Hmmm... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 04, 2006 @04:40PM (#16039636)

    stop tossing people into prisons for minor things

    Minor things? How about peaceful things? Non-violent things? How about acts of voluntary association between consenting adults? You know, those things which human nature (NOT government) already declared moral and acceptable forms of behavior?

    There is a reason why the US has the highest rate of incarceration in the world (i.e. inmates per population). It's not because the US has more violent criminals to deal with -- it's because the US government has put more peaceful "criminals" in prison.

  • by Reziac (43301) * on Monday September 04, 2006 @09:07PM (#16040954) Homepage Journal
    Another problem is that once such "laws" become acceptable, ANYTHING can be treated that way, and even the most trivial accusation can cause problems.

    An example of the "trivial" type: Accused of speeding, you might find that you're now on a "reckless drivers" list, and your insurance rate goes up, even tho you received no ticket and were not convicted of speeding.

    And of the more serious type: Say you're gay, and someone who disapproves of homosexuality decides to accuse you of sexual abuse (because in their view, ALL gay sex is "abuse"). And you consequently find yourself on a Sex Offenders list. Homosexuality is thereby rendered *effectively* illegal and punishable by what amounts to government-sanctioned "shunning", despite a complete lack of due process and an absence of laws against it.

  • Re:Actually... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by walstib (620771) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @10:35AM (#16044421)
    No need for a penis there are plenty of female sex-offenders they just don't get the press that the males do.
    Of course not. If you are a guy in high school and have a smokin' hot teacher that wants to do you, are you really going to call the cops? Or will you call all of your friends and tell them you are banging a hottie?

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